Tags: MidPoint | Pope Francis | Catholic Church | sex abuse

Victim Advocates: Where Is Pope on Pedophile Priest Scandal?

By    |   Friday, 07 November 2014 02:57 PM

The release this week of more child sex abuse files on dozens of Chicago-area priests looks like damage control, not a step toward full accountability for scandalous behavior by the Catholic Church, two advocates for victims of priestly sexual abuse told "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner on Newsmax TV Friday.

Victims' representative Barbara Dorris and trial lawyer Gregory Gianforcaro also questioned how committed Pope Francis truly is to seeing justice done against abusers in his ranks and to punishing Church officials who covered up for predatory priests.

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"This pope is an absolute monarch," said Dorris, outreach director for the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP), and yet, she added, Francis has made "no attempt" to rid the hierarchy of tainted officials who continue in positions of power despite criminal convictions.

"So his message to bishops is very clear," said Dorris, who was herself abused by a priest as a child.

Gianforcaro, who won settlements for victims in an abuse case against the Archdiocese of Newark, N.J., said, "I hear people saying what a great Pope we've got, but …  I don't see any evidence that there's any change.

"So until that happens, I'm going to reserve judgment," said Gianforcaro.

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The 15,000 pages released on Thursday by the Chicago Archdiocese — the second such document dump  this year — concern allegations against dozens of priests going back decades. The files are also heavily redacted, with names of victims and suspected priests blacked out.

Dorris and Gianforcaro said that concealing names is appropriate for victims but not for suspected abusers.

"Many of these men are still alive," said Dorris. "Many of these men are still living in unsuspecting communities. Are they teaching math? Tutoring kids? Coaching softball? Working in a daycare center? Where are they now? What are they doing? What have the church officials done to warn the communities that these men are out there?"

Dorris said that if the Church's priority truly is prevention of harm, the Archdiocese could take a number of additional steps.

"They could post current photos and old photos on their website," said Dorris. "They could release where they are living now and what they are doing. They could take these men and place them in secure, independently run treatment facilities where they would have no access to children.

"They could be going to parishes and begging anyone with information about these priests to call the police so that they could be prosecuted," she said.

Asked why they have not, Dorris said, "The only thing that comes to mind is they are focused on preventing lawsuits and preventing scandal, and what they should be focused on is preventing more child abuse from happening."

Gianforcaro said that the Chicago Archdiocese is also in "the minority" in releasing files.

"Frankly, most of the dioceses in this country are stonewalling, and a lot of the religious orders are stonewalling as well," he said.

"Back in 2002 in the wake of the Boston scandal, the bishops all met together in Dallas and preached openness and transparency," said Gianforcaro. "And what a lot of my clients — and, I know, Barbara Dorris, one of your guests — have said is that if you want to have openness and transparency then release the files. And I just don't see that happening."

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The release this week of more child sex abuse files on dozens of Chicago-area priests looks like damage control, two advocates for victims of priestly sexual abuse told "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner on Newsmax TV Friday.
Catholic Church, sex abuse
Friday, 07 November 2014 02:57 PM
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